A Western Pennsylvania psychiatrist has not only lost his license but is also facing criminal charges. And it all, he claims, started with child support.
Unpaid child support, to be exact. The details aren't clear, but apparently, in 2012, the court suspended his medical license for 32 days for not staying current with his support payments. During that time, however, he continued his practice. Authorities say he saw more than 500 patients and wrote prescriptions for more than 450 patients.
The more serious criminal charges stem from billing Medicaid for some of those services. During his suspension period, he billed $59,000 to the government program. With each of those invoices, the state alleges, he committed fraud.
The 61-year-old is charged with 100 counts of Medicaid fraud and attempted Medicaid fraud. He also faces charges of theft by deception, tampering with public records, unlawful prescribing and, finally, delivery of a controlled substance.
The 2012 suspension was not his first run-in with a medical board. He pleaded guilty to theft in 1997, but this time his activities crossed over into Ohio. That state's medical board suspended his license for two years, while Pennsylvania, a little more forgiving, ordered a two-month suspension, levied a fine and placed him on probation.
His attorney is confident that the grand jury got it wrong and that, ultimately, the psychiatrist will prevail. He did not share the basis for his belief.
The story serves as a great example of yet another way a medical professional can, perhaps unwittingly, put his or her license at risk. Information about, for example, unprofessional conduct is well-documented on the board's website. What isn't there, and what health professionals in Pennsylvania may not realize, is that the state can suspend your license to practice if you fall behind on child support.
According to the Pennsylvania Child Support Handbook issued by the state Department of Public Welfare, owing three months or more in child support can result in the suspension, denial or nonrenewal of a medical professional's license to practice. That's not all, of course: The court can order the same for your driver's license (including commercial license) and your fishing or hunting licenses.
This is just one of the many reasons we recommend that doctors, nurses and other medical professionals consult with a medical licensing attorney when any legal matter arises.
Source: Trib Live News, "Monroeville psychiatrist charged with billing Medicaid while license suspended," Megan Guza, Feb. 5, 2015